First off I must say that this letter is way overdue. I wanted to submit this in Decmeber, but thought that it would be best not to over-post Julio's letter.
This is Stephen. During a visit to Peru in 2004, I met Julio at the Q’ewar store in the village square. It was during this time that I was introduced to the Project and its goals. I wasn’t until I this year that I was able to visit the Project house and grounds. I visited the project during the first two weeks in November 2008. During those two weeks I was overwhelmed by the generosity shown me by the Directors, the volunteers and by the workers and their children.
Let me start off by saying that the Project is doing well. It is only doing so well because of all of the hard work done by all those that continue to support it on the inside and the outside. That means you.
Now onto the details;
Construction is moving along swiftly. The dormitory and the new school are nearly completed. I was told that the completion date is April of 2009. While I was there, the concrete floors were being poured for the kitchens and the bathrooms. The floors for the upstairs dorms weren’t finished because work on the electrical fixtures and the window installation hadn’t been completed. The walls for the entire structure, upstairs and downstairs, were finished and white-washed. A playground will be built between the new school and the oven that the children use to cook bread every Monday.
The building containing rooms for art and music have been completed. The upstairs painting room is the location where I was housed and forced into signing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” during the Wednesday “Night of Culture”. The cultural night is organized by the two current volunteers from Germany, Anne and Jana. The day was changed to Wednesday so that I could attend. I was to leave for Cuzco and Lima Thursday and therefore be unable to attend the regular Thursday night’s festivities.
The common toilet area is equipped with a solar water heater which allows the workers and children the opportunity to take a hot shower. Most houses in the village don’t have hot water. Many of the worker’s houses don’t even have running water. The ability to bathe and wash clothing in hot water is another exceptional bonus that the Project brings to the workers and children.
There is a cistern under final construction that will store water to irrigate the crops grown within Project grounds. Above the cistern will be another workshop.
While I was there, soil was being moved to the bottom terrace to prepare the ground for the planning of seed potatoes. The corn in one of the middle terraces was about a meter high. The poor chickens were enclosed to keep them from damaging the emerging corn plants.
Let me say that I was a big distraction to everyone. I don’t think that I caused any hardships, but I was certainly disruptive to the teachers and students in Wawa Munakuy as I walked around with my cameras. The children, while probably very disciplined when I wasn’t around, always seemed to be vying for my attention rather than the approval of their teachers. I loved it. We taught each other words in our respective languages. I felt slightly embarrassed that I was fluent in only one language while they all spoke two. My limited knowledge of Spanish and German COMBINED seemed to make me seem worldly and knowledgeable. Nonetheless, I was happy to learn a few words in Quechua (their primary language) and Spanish.
The Saturday ‘spinning ladies’ were amazed at my dread-locked hair. Since they are masters of spinning yarn and weaving, my hair was the center of considerable conversation and inspection.
Watching the workers up close was amazing. The finished dolls are beautiful, but actually watching them being created was very illuminating. The attention to detail shown by the workers at every step of the process is overwhelming. I watched one of the volunteers submit her doll’s legs for inspection and they were rejected as a matched pair. She was told that those legs could not be sewn onto the same doll because the dimensions did not match each other. She would have to make other legs to try and match those rejected legs. I couldn’t tell why those legs were rejected. They looked good to me. Everyone should be glad that I am not an inspector within the Project.
Before now, the Project was unable to provide even the most basic housing for volunteers. Now that the vision of the Project grounds is nearly complete, full-time volunteers are able to live on the grounds for a nominal fee. See the “Volunteer “page for a link to the contact form and details.
I took many photos and will submit them once they are scanned and uploaded. I will send a notice out to all of the subscribers when the photos are online. I am prepared to be disappointed in the photos because the beauty of the Project grounds and its surrounding vista is impossible to capture on film. I hope my photos capture a percentage of the beauty. It seems impossible NOT to do great work while surrounded by the mountains and those marvelous people.
Julio and Lucy work remarkably hard as the Directors. Their dedication to the cause they have undertaken is evident in the all aspects of the Project. The attention to detail in the products, the grounds and within the demeanor of each of the workers is testament to their loyalty to the people within the Project.
If all things go well, I hope to visit again in 2009.